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Two More Michigan Officials Plead ‘No Contest’ as Flint Water Crisis Investigation Continues
Two Michigan environmental regulators implicated in the Flint water crisis plead "no contest" in a bid to avoid felony charges. As part of their deal, they will also testify against others involved with the scandal, which contaminated the town of Flint, Michigan's drinking water with lead and resulted in 12 deaths from Legionnaires' Disease, The Huffington Post reported Thursday.
The two officials in question, Michael Prysby and Stephen Busch, both worked for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). They are among 15 officials who have been charged by Michigan's Attorney General's Office in relation to the scandal and the fifth and sixth of that group to plead no contest to misdemeanors, a move similar to a guilty plea when it comes to sentencing, The Detroit Free Press explained.
Prosecutor Todd Flood said he accepted the pleas because of "substantial assistance being given to move the ball down the field in the Flint water investigation," according to The Detroit Free Press.
The Flint water crisis began in 2014 when officials swapped the city's water supply from Lake Huron and the Detroit River to the highly corrosive Flint River. The water leached lead from pipes into residents' drinking water, leading to dangerously high levels for 18 months. The water also had low levels of chlorine, which caused the Legionnaires' outbreak, The Huffington Post explained.
The details of the two officials' pleas are as follows, according to The Detroit Free Press.
Plea: Prysby plead no contest to a charge under the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act related to issuing permits for the Flint Water Treatment Plant and starting it up in April 2014 before it was ready to properly treat water.
Charges Avoided: Prysby had faced two counts of misconduct in office, one count of conspiracy to tamper with evidence and one count of tampering with evidence.
Testimony: Prysby has agreed to testify that the decision to open the Flint Water Treatment Plant before it was ready was made by state-appointed emergency managers. He has also agreed to testify about a faulty administrative consent order that allowed Flint to issue bonds for a new pipeline to Lake Huron.
Plea: Busch plead no contest to a misdemeanor charge for causing a disturbance in a public building. His lawyer, Mark Kriger, explained it was related to a meeting in Flint in January 2015 during which residents raised concerns about foul-smelling, discolored water.
"Because of Mr. Busch's failure to address those concerns adequately, the meeting became extremely boisterous, and in fact it had to be ended prematurely," Kriger told the judge.
Charges Avoided: Busch faced many of the same charges as Prysby, with the addition of an involuntary manslaughter charge, The Huffington Post reported.
Testimony: Busch is prepared to testify that he spoke to Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon about legionella bacteria before March 2015, The Detroit Free Press reported. Lyon is the highest-ranking official who will go to trial because of the Flint water crisis. He will stand trial for involuntary manslaughter related to the Legionnaires' outbreak. He did not announce the outbreak until January of 2016, The Associated Press reported.
Busch and Prysby will be sentenced Jan. 23, 2019.
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By Jennifer Molidor
One million species are at risk of extinction from human activity, warns a recent study by scientists with the United Nations. We need to cut greenhouse gas pollution across all sectors to avoid catastrophic climate change — and we need to do it fast, said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
This research should serve as a rallying cry for polluting industries to make major changes now. Yet the agriculture industry continues to lag behind.
"The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism wishes to inform the public that following extensive consultations with all stakeholders, the Government of Botswana has taken a decision to lift the hunting suspension," the government announced in a press release shared on social media.
Company Safety Data Sheets on New Chemicals Frequently Lack the Worker Protections EPA Claims They Include
By Richard Denison
Readers of this blog know how concerned EDF is over the Trump EPA's approval of many dozens of new chemicals based on its mere "expectation" that workers across supply chains will always employ personal protective equipment (PPE) just because it is recommended in the manufacturer's non-binding safety data sheet (SDS).
By Grant Smith
From 2009 to 2012, Gregory Jaczko was chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which approves nuclear power plant designs and sets safety standards for plants. But he now says that nuclear power is too dangerous and expensive — and not part of the answer to the climate crisis.
By Brett Walton
When Greg Wetherbee sat in front of the microscope recently, he was looking for fragments of metals or coal, particles that might indicate the source of airborne nitrogen pollution in Rocky Mountain National Park. What caught his eye, though, were the plastics.
In a big victory for animals, Prada has announced that it's ending its use of fur! It joins Coach, Jean Paul Gaultier, Giorgio Armani, Versace, Ralph Lauren, Vivienne Westwood, Michael Kors, Donna Karan and many others PETA has pushed toward a ban.
This is a victory more than a decade in the making. PETA and our international affiliates have crashed Prada's catwalks with anti-fur signs, held eye-catching demonstrations all around the world, and sent the company loads of information about the fur industry. In 2018, actor and animal rights advocate Pamela Anderson sent a letter on PETA's behalf urging Miuccia Prada to commit to leaving fur out of all future collections, and the iconic designer has finally listened.
If people in three European countries want to fight the climate crisis, they need to chill out more.
"The rapid pace of labour-saving technology brings into focus the possibility of a shorter working week for all, if deployed properly," Autonomy Director Will Stronge said, The Guardian reported. "However, while automation shows that less work is technically possible, the urgent pressures on the environment and on our available carbon budget show that reducing the working week is in fact necessary."
The report found that if the economies of Germany, Sweden and the UK maintain their current levels of carbon intensity and productivity, they would need to switch to a six, 12 and nine hour work week respectively if they wanted keep the rise in global temperatures to the below two degrees Celsius promised by the Paris agreement, The Independent reported.
The study based its conclusions on data from the UN and the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) on greenhouse gas emissions per industry in all three countries.
The report comes as the group Momentum called on the UK's Labour Party to endorse a four-day work week.
"We welcome this attempt by Autonomy to grapple with the very real changes society will need to make in order to live within the limits of the planet," Emma Williams of the Four Day Week campaign said in a statement reported by The Independent. "In addition to improved well-being, enhanced gender equality and increased productivity, addressing climate change is another compelling reason we should all be working less."
Supporters of the idea linked it to calls in the U.S. and Europe for a Green New Deal that would decarbonize the economy while promoting equality and well-being.
"This new paper from Autonomy is a thought experiment that should give policymakers, activists and campaigners more ballast to make the case that a Green New Deal is absolutely necessary," Common Wealth think tank Director Mat Lawrence told The Independent. "The link between working time and GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions has been proved by a number of studies. Using OECD data and relating it to our carbon budget, Autonomy have taken the step to show what that link means in terms of our working weeks."
Stronge also linked his report to calls for a Green New Deal.
"Becoming a green, sustainable society will require a number of strategies – a shorter working week being just one of them," he said, according to The Guardian. "This paper and the other nascent research in the field should give us plenty of food for thought when we consider how urgent a Green New Deal is and what it should look like."
- Reduced Work Hours as a Means of Slowing Climate Change ›
- How working less could solve all our problems. Really. | ›
- Needed: A shorter work week – People's World ›